Category Archive: News

Feb 19 2018

Is 2018 the year of VVols?

Next month VMware’s new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture will turn 3 years old as it was released as part of vSphere 6.0 in March of 2015. Since it’s initial release adoption has been very slow, I believe VMware estimates less than 2% of customers are using VVols. So will 2018 be the year of VVols and will we finally start to see more mainstream adoption? I’d really love to answer that question with a yes but to be realistic I’d probably have to answer it as no and the reason for that VVols has several things working against it which is the root cause of slow adoption.

Lack of VMware marketing

Now I know VMware has backed off on marketing VVols and I understand their rational as they see it as core architecture but it wouldn’t hurt to promote it now and then to help out the partner community. Except for the VMware VVols product team doing some occasional things you really don’t find many other people at VMware talking VVols up. VMware does have a VVols product page but it seems most of their marketing and promotion is focused on things like NSX, vSAN and AWS.

To be fair VMware did do a ton of marketing around VVols the first year or so after it was released, but the timing wasn’t right back then, partners weren’t ready (only 4 supported it), customers weren’t ready (nobody rushed to vSphere 6), heck even VMware wasn’t completely ready until vSphere 6.5 (no replication). Now is really the time for them to be marketing VVols as the maturity level for VVols has greatly advanced over the last 3 years for both VMware and especially the partner community.

Partners not ready

Developing a VVols solution is no easy task and represents a hugely significant development commitment for partners. Over the last 3 years partner solutions for VVols have been slowly emerging and improving in fact the last major storage vendor to not have VVols support (Pure) just finally released their VVols solution recently. This isn’t a knock against partners really, when you factor in the major changes that you have to make in your storage architecture to support VVols with all the other non-VVols development work that partners need to constantly do to improve their platforms it’s a heck of a challenge to deliver a robust and scalable VVols solution.

I know in my company we have spent 6+ years working on VVols with a dedicated engineering team focused on it. Scaling VVols is one of the biggest challenges and most block storage arrays were never equipped to handle tens of thousands of LUNs that VVols could potentially require (1000 VMs = 3,000 LUNs at a minimum). In addition the way storage arrays interact with Protocol Endpoints and VASA Providers requires a whole different approach from a storage array perspective compared to VMFS.

I think most partners are a lot more ready then they were 3 years ago but I don’t think you could point to any one partner and call them done with VVols completely. I’d have to say all of them still have VVols support roadmaps stretching out for months and years. Today there are about 20 storage vendors that show in the VVols HCL as support it on vSphere 6.0, 13 of them supporting it on vSphere 6.5 and only 3 that supports the VVols replication functionally in vSphere 6.5. However just being on the HCL speaks nothing of what you actually support with VVols which is different across every partner and how well you scale with VVols as well. Hopefully partners keep working hard to improve their VVols solutions.

And as a final comment, VMware is mostly done with the development of VVols, it’s not really on them anymore to deliver missing functionality. There really isn’t any roadblock for partners to engineer a complete VVols solutions at this point. From what I’ve seen the VVols roadmap going forward mainly centers around some optimizations of VVols operations and things like bringing bind operations in band. The upcoming vSphere release brings some minor improvements to VVols but it really is feature complete from a VMware perspective.

Bad first impressions

You only get one chance to make a first impression and that impression can have a lasting effect on people. For anyone who tried out VVols early on when most partners had new and incomplete solutions the VVols experience may not have gone all that great for them. Because of that bad first experience they may have already made up their minds about VVols and stick with what has been working just fine for them for years and years. As a result it’s hard to convince those people to give VVols another try on a more mature and feature complete VVols solution.

What is really at the root of this problem is that it typically takes years and years to completely engineer a VVols solution and if you release it too early when it isn’t complete and fully baked you risk giving users a bad VVols experience. VVols is a lot different from other VMware integration’s like VAAI and vCenter plug-ins. It requires a vendor to make big changes to their core storage arrays and to engineer a scalable solution that supports a wide variety of array capabilities advertised to SPBM takes a lot of effort. Most vendors I’ve seen have released solutions and have slowly improved them over time. Pure seems to be a notable exception to this as while they were showing off VVols years ago, they appeared to have held off on delivering their solution until recently.

So for anyone who may have had a bad first impression with VVols, I strongly encourage you to give it another try. VVols has some fantastic benefits over VMFS and partners have come a long way since the early days. Work with your partners, see where they are at today with VVols and how their roadmap looks. At some point I fully expect VMFS to go away and VVols will be your only option so don’t wait too long which leads me to my next point.

No sense of urgency

Right now there is no sense of urgency from VMware to switch to VVols and I don’t think we will get that sense anytime soon. If VMware really wanted to drive people to VVols they can do what they typically do when they offer two things that are similar in nature, announce the EOL of the old one to get people moving to the new one. Remember when so many people stuck with ESX as their hypervisor of choice despite there being a new and better option with ESXi? Some people simply don’t like change, they stick with what they know and are used to and are very resistant to switching to something new despite the benefits. Once the partner ecosystem caught up with supporting ESXi it took VMware to finally say enough is enough you have no choice in the next vSphere release it’s ESXi or nothing to get people motivated to switch.

The same holds true for other vSphere duplicate functionality, VMware made you give up your vSphere C# client, the days of vCenter running on Windows are numbered and soon HTML5 will be the only web UI. Now I know right now isn’t the time for VMware to announce any EOL of VMFS but at some point they’ll have to set a sense of urgency with customers to get them moving to VVols. It also wouldn’t hurt if VMware dropped some subtle hints as well at some point. Right now I don’t think customers know VMware’s strategic plans for VMFS and VVols, it’s more of you can choose either this or that and not you should move from this to that. Once VMware does set expectations accordingly and deprecates the old I think we’ll see a big wave of people moving to VVols.

Lack of support and documentation

I’ve heard this from many people, call VMware for VVols support and many times it’s hard to find someone who know enough about it to help resolve issues. I’m guessing this is more of VMware support not getting a lot of calls on VVols and therefore not having a lot of experience with it then a lack of VMware training support people on VVols. I’m thinking the same might hold true for partners supporting VVols as well. Also you have the potential for finger pointing between partners and VMware back and forth as well, in many cases customers are probably calling VMware first and the reality is many VVols support issues are probably partner related as most issues are probably related to partner implementations and not the VASA spec. All in all this can result in frustrated customers, I expect this to improve over time as support teams get more experience with VVols.

When it comes to documentation and other VVols support material (i.e. blogs, videos, white papers, etc.) some vendors have done a fairly decent job with this but from what I’ve seen other vendors have not done very well at all. I’ve looked around at some vendors when doing research and I constantly see either very dated or no material to help customers understand and implement VVols. I know at my company I’ve done all I can to get as much out there as a possible, that includes creating white papers, analyst reports, blogs, video, webinars, VMUG sessions and more. Lack of VVols documentation and materials can definitely frustrate and turn away customers wanting to check out VVols. I’d encourage all partners to do a better job with this, don’t put all that engineering effort into VVols and skimp out on documentation.

Lack of partner marketing

It truly is on the partners to promote their own VVols solutions. This isn’t VAAI where every partner integration is mostly the same thing supporting core primitives. At it’s core VVols is mainly VASA which is the specification that VMware writes that allows storage vendors to develop VVols solutions specific to their own arrays. As a result every storage vendor is going to have their own unique VVols solution where they can pick and choose what capabilities they want to advertise to storage policies and what features they want to implement to support with VVols. It’s up to each vendor to decide what they want to do with VVols, they can offer basic capabilities or they can get innovative with their solutions and do cool things that other partners aren’t doing.

Since every partner solution is vastly different with VVols, partners need to market their own unique solutions! If all partners stepped up their VVols marketing I bet we would see a lot more adoption. Right now many people don’t know what VVols will do for them and why they should switch to VVols. It’s on the partners to get the word out and make people want to move to VVols especially now that VMware has gone largely silent in promoting VVols themselves. How does any company sell something? They market it to raise awareness! Unless we see partners doing more promotion of VVols the slow adoption trend will continue.

Final thoughts

So 2018 may not be a big year for VVols but I know adoption will slowly continue to rise. As time progresses I believe that pace will be more rapid. As I’ve said over and over VVols has many benefits and is the future for external storage in vSphere. It’s not a matter of if people will switch to VVols it’s a matter of when they will switch. If VMware and partners work together and address some of the things I have talked about here it will go a long way to getting VVols to see more mainstream adoption. I for one want to see that sooner rather than later so I’ll continue to do my part and hope others do so as well. Viva Las VVols!

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Feb 19 2018

VMworld 2018 Call For Papers is open – here’s how to get people to vote for and attend your session

VMware just announced that the Call for Papers for VMworld 2018 is now open until March 13th. Just like last year, this year VMware has opened early compared to the usual March-April period of years past. Remember VMworld US is again back in Vegas this year at the Mandalay Bay from Aug. 26th-30th, VMworld Europe in Barcelona is much later this year, instead of being right after the US event like last year, this year it it pushed out to November (5th-8th). Here are the key dates for the CFP process this year:

  • June 12, 2018 – Speaker Resource Center Live (US and Europe)
  • June 19, 2018 – Content Catalog Live (US and Europe)
  • July 10, 2018 – Presentation First Drafts Due (US)
  • July 17, 2018 – Schedule Builder Live (US)
  • August 2, 2018 – Final Presentations Due (US)
  • August 26-30 – VMworld 2018 US takes place (Las Vegas)
  • September 25, 2018 – Schedule Builder Live (Europe)
  • September 25, 2018 – Presentation First Drafts Due (Europe)
  • November 5-8, 2018 – VMworld takes place (Barcelona)

Last year they ended up extended the deadline a few days, but one thing I can’t stress enough is don’t wait for until the last minute and rush through it, plan it out now and write your submissions up so they are well thought out. From previous experience I can tell you to have a catchy title as it’s your sessions curb appeal. Many people won’t make it past your title and you miss a chance to interest them with your abstract if you have a boring and un-interesting session title. As a former content committee judge I can also tell you to spend some time on your abstract and don’t rush to throw something together without thinking it through. I’ve seen lots of session proposals that lacked any real detail about what the session was about.

If you want to impress both the content committee and public voters who will determine if your session is approved I encourage you to follow the tips listed below for the best chance of getting your session approved. For sponsors in particular I highly encourage you to read this post I did last year entitled: Sponsor sessions at VMware events: If you build it right they will come. In that post I detailed what works and what doesn’t to make your session attractive to attendees, this is based on my personal experience at VMworld last year and how I was able to get almost 1,000 people to register for my session. To summarize the winning formula for a good session tends to be:

  • Knowledgeable, technical speaker + educational/technical content – sales/marketing pitch = great attendance

Here are some additional tips that VMware provides:

Tips for Creating Effective Titles for Submission

  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms under any circumstances in the titles of your submissions.
  • Do not use competitor or other company names in your submission titles. If you are highlighting other companies within your session, you can adopt these names within the session description.
  • Start with the Benefit: Ex: Shorten Adoption Time by Using VMware’s XXX.
  • Use clear and concise language that attendees will immediately understand. The agenda will eventually host hundreds of sessions and attendees need to easily identify sessions of interest. Straight forward language like “Introduction to”, “Deep Dive” and “Case Study” are popular examples because they quickly tell the attendee important information about the session.

Typical Reasons for Abstract Rejection

  • The abstract is poorly written—ideas are not clear, goals are not established, there are grammatical errors, etc.
  • The content is not relevant to the indicated audience.
  • The session value is not clearly identified.
  • The session topic is not unique or overlaps with another more appropriate abstract.

Tips for Writing Winning Abstracts

  • Avoid beginning your session description with the phrase, “In this session we will…”, or “In this session you will learn…”. It does not add value and becomes tedious on an agenda of several hundred sessions. Instead try a rhetorical question, or an interesting industry data
    point to start your session abstract.
  • Ensure that what you submit will be what you present. Nothing will upset attendees more than signing up for a session that is not what it is advertised to be.
  • Your abstract should generate enthusiasm‐ make sure your content is relevant, but also generates excitement. What invaluable information will be shared during the session?
  • Thoughtfully leverage the tags in the system for topics, level, and roles. Who is the target audience? What products or topics does this session cover outside of the track name? What roles would specifically benefit from this session? Do not check every check box if your session is applicable to all.
  • Be Original – Attendees want to see new presentations that cover the latest innovations in technology. Take the time to create well‐written titles, abstracts, outlines, and the key takeaways for your submission. A thoughtful proposal will have a better chance of being
    selected and if accepted, will be seen by thousands of attendees once published in the course catalog.
  • Be Educational –VMware requires that sessions focus on the educational value of the presentation. Be sure that your proposal doesn’t sound like a sales pitch but rather an exciting opportunity for attendees to learn something new.
  • Be Timely – Make sure your topic is relevant to the audience you’re targeting. Review the content topics before submitting a session.

Read the full submission guidelines here and the FAQ here.

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Feb 13 2018

Automating Storage Provisioning using VMware vRealize Orchestrator

I finally got my company to get on board with an external webinar platform and I get to kick off the very first webinar on BrightTalk.The topic is on vRealize Orchestrator integration with the 3PAR platform as an example, I promise this will be a technical webinar and not a sales pitch so if you want to learn more about using vRealize Orchestrator & vRealize Automation with vSphere join us this Thursday 2/15 at 9:00am MST. You can sign up by clicking the below image, hope to see you there!

Automating Storage Provisioning using VMware vRealize Orchestrator

Virtualizing data center infrastructure has reduced server sprawl, and improved provisioning, scalability and TCO. However, it’s come with increased complexity in managing across the infrastructure stack. To address this, IT orgs are turning to automation. VMware vRealize Orchestrator and VMware vRealize Automation let you: easily provision virtual and physical servers, software, networking and storage; develop composite workflows to speed complex infrastructure provisioning; and create customized environments for dev/test. This webinar covers technical details of these products and includes a demonstration of how to start a VMware Private Cloud by automating Storage Provisioning tasks using the new vRealize Orchestrator plugin for HPE 3PAR Storeserv and vRealize Automation.
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Jan 25 2018

A new job for me and reflecting on 2017

2017 was a bit of a tough year for me mainly due to the major surgery that my daughter Sophia had and the subsequent very painful recovery from it. I’d have to say that was one of the most difficult and stressful things that I have been through in my life and I am very glad that it is behind me. I’ve very happy to say that Sophia is 100% recovered and is so much better off with her spine straightened, she was a trooper throughout it and was probably stronger than I was. I want to give a very big thanks to everyone that helped out with her trip to NASA that we took right before her surgery so she could have some fun before the surgery ruined most of her summer.

Once that was past it was great seeing old friends and making new ones at VMworld, as usual that was an enjoyable break from the normal work and home life experience. Shortly after VMworld I was approached by someone within HPE to fill in for someone who was leaving to go work for Zerto. She was the Product Manager for the HPE storage integration’s portfolio for VMware and with my background and experience that wanted me to fulfill that role on an interim basis why they searched for candidates to fill it permanently. This was all in addition to my existing job as Solutions Manager for VMware so essentially I was doing two jobs simultaneously.

I said I’d be happy to help out for a few months why they searched for candidates, I wasn’t really interested in taking the role permanently. It was definitely a change from my other job role in solutions were I was mostly a one man team, in the new role I managed the engineering teams that develop all of our VMware plug-ins which was a new and interesting job experience for me. As I waited for that position to be filled they came back to me a few weeks ago and expressed that they really wanted me to consider taking the job permanently. So after some consideration I decided to take it, they offered it in a way that I could keep some of my existing responsibilities around VMware solutions as well, so essentially I have dual job roles.

So effective Feb. 1 I’ll be the official WW Product Manager for our VMware storage plug-ins, which includes our plugins for vCenter (OneView), vRealize Ops Mgr, Log Insight & Orchestrator and SRM. I’ll also be continuing my existing role as WW Solutions Manager for VMware. So I’ll have plenty to keep me busy in 2018, if that wasn’t enough I’m also planning to move to the Houston area this summer. If you want to buy my house in Colorado, I’m sure Scott Lowe’s wife Crystal who is my realtor will love to sell it to you.

So that’s my update, I took most of December off and un-plugged from the virtual world for a while but I’m back and will be cranking out a bunch of posts here and also kicking off Top vBlog 2018 very soon.

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Jan 25 2018

2017 VVols year in review

I tend to write a lot about VMware VVols these days as I believe VMware’s new storage architecture has many benefits and VVols is the future of storage for vSphere. In this post I thought I would highlight and recap some of the posts that I did in 2017 related to VVols and you have many more VVols posts coming your way from me in 2018.

In January I gave an update on VVol adoption based on the data we collect from 3PAR arrays specific to VVols. I also showed how to find out which vendors support the new VVol replication feature introduced in vSphere 6.5.

In March I provided an overview of current storage vendor support for VVols which continues to grow.

In April I wrote about some of the new PowerCLI cmdlets that were released that support BC/DR operations related to replicating VVols.

In June I wrote about why their were almost no VVols session at VMworld 2017 as VMware felt they had done enough to promote VVols and it was now on the partners to do so.

In August I wrote about resources to learn more about VVols replication.

In September I wrote about a new report that IDC released that highlighted the benefits of VVols.  I also wrote on some of the enhancements that are in the upcoming vSphere release related to VVols. Finally I did a short post that highlighted an in-booth session that Pete Flecha from VMware did on VVols.

In October I wrote about how VVols inmpacts the protocol choices people make in vSphere.

In November I gave a fresh update on VVols adoption.

And in December I rested, more to come very soon!

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Nov 20 2017

A new update on VVols customer adoption

It’s been a while since I last reported on the customer telemetry data that we capture to track VVol adoption with 3PAR customers and wanted to provide an update. Before I share that I want to relay what I’ve seen and heard around VVols adoption in general.

VVols adoption is trending upward, our data confirms this and VMware confirms this as well. VMware can track some basic VVol stats via their vCenter analyst cloud functionality and the data I’ve seen that was shared to me by VMware definitely shows VVol adoption trending upwards. Adoption seems to trending up faster in the last year based on several factors:

  • More customers moving from vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.x were VVols is supported
  • The release of vSphere 6.5 which including the missing VVol replication functionality
  • Better partner support for VVols as partners build out their solutions and increase scalability
  • Better customer awareness of what VVol’s is and the benefits that VVols provides

Now before you get excited when I say trending upward there is still a very small percentage of the VMware install base currently using VVols, VMware estimates around 2%. However the usage trends have sharply up-ticked in the last year compared to the year and a half prior to that since the initial VVols release when adoption was almost non-existent. I fully expect that to continue to accelerate going forward as more customers start using it. So while adoption is on the rise which is a good sign I realistically don’t expect it to reach the tipping point of being the majority of what customers use (>50%) for several years.

As far as the development of VVols goes from a VMware perspective the VASA specification is basically feature complete. The roadmap for VVols is mostly minor enhancements and a lot of the under the covers optimization and support for things like in-band binding. Some of the other VMware product teams have some work to do to improve VVols support (-cough- SRM -cough-) but for the most part VVols is done. Partners have everything they need to build out their VVols solutions however they see fit based on the VASA framework and that really is the main inhibitor to VVols adoption, partner readiness with their VVols support.

So now on to the tracking data on 3PAR, this is an update since my last post on VVols adoption in January 2017 and a comparison from January 2016 to September 2017.

Jan 2016Jan 2017Sept 2017
Systems running VVols46258361
Systems with < 10 VVols36111165
Systems with 11-50 VVols55171
Systems with 51-100 VVols31135
Systems with 100+ VVols24390
1st largest customer (by # of VMs)N/A1,457 VVols/576 VMs2,656 VVols/727 VMs
10th largest customer (by # of VMs)N/A477 VVols/169 VMs944 VVols/216 VMs

As you can see from Jan. 2017 to Sept. 2017 VVols adoption has picked up and their are a good number of customers running it full scale (100+ VVols) in their environments. There also are some pretty significant size VVol deployments which is encouraging to see as the benefits that VVols provides are amplified the larger your vSphere environment is. I’ll be anxious to see what the data looks like 6 months from now as VVol adoption is only going to drive upward, however at what pace is yet to be seen. As partners continue to improve their VVol feature support and increase scalability it will help accelerate adoption going forward. The future for VVols looks bright and I look forward to the day when VMware finally retires VMFS and storage management is all policy based.

To learn more about VVols here our a few recent posts I did on various VVols topics:

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Nov 14 2017

How Pat Gelsinger saved VMware

I ran across this recent article in the SF Business Times and thought I would share it along with my thoughts. The article highlights VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger as one of the most admired CEO’s and how he helped right the VMware ship adrift in stormy seas during his tenure. You can read the article yourself but I thought I would share a few highlights from the article and a bit of Pat’s background I found out through my own research:

  • He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and worked on the family farm raising dairy cows, pigs, soybeans and sorghum. He expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps as a farmer. An early interest in technology changed his career forever.
  • By age 18 he had an associate degree from Lincoln Tech and then headed out to Silicon Valley to work for Intel as a quality control technician. He soon discovered he wanted to be on the other side as an engineer and earned his electrical engineering degrees at Santa Clara University while working at Intel.
  • He worked at Intel for 30 years (1979-2009) initially as a technician and chip architect, he worked on the 386 processor (and wrote a book on it) and rose up to be the chief architect for the 486 processor. He then worked his way up the ladder to become Intel’s 1st CTO (2005-2009), he was also Sr. VP & GM for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.
  • He worked as President and COO at EMC until August 2012 when he was introduced as VMware’s new CEO at VMworld and took over the role from Paul Maritz. At the time VMware was struggling and threatened by cloud storage and needed to find the right path to better compete.
  • He helped create a winning strategy by shifting VMware’s focus to the cloud and forming key partnerships with major cloud players. He also helped navigate the Dell deal and ensure VMware’s independence all while going through a tough period in his personal life while his son battled cancer (he beat it!).
  • He’s a very spiritual person with a strong Christian faith who preaches and does a lot of charitable work. He has also written a few books which includes The Juggling Act: Bringing Balance to Your Faith, Family, and Work (2008). His favorite bible verse and life motto is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
  • He is a very charitable person and gives away almost 50% of his gross income to charity a big part of which goes to helping children in impoverished nations go to school, he also splurges a little on himself and owns a BMW i8 which is one sweet ride.

From my viewpoint I can’t think of a better person to lead VMware into the future, VMware has adapted to the ever changing IT landscape pretty well and it’s a testament to their leadership that they have made the changes necessary to stay relevant. It’s fairly unusual to have a CEO of a big company that has a deep technical background, many CEO’s are more your stereotypical executive business types. I think Pat’s management style of being a blue collar CEO who is very hands-on and deeply entrenched in the software that VMware develops is part of the reason they continue to be successful at what they do.

It’s readily apparent that he is very passionate and intense about what he does and his success over the years rising all the way to the top position at VMware is a testament to all his hard work and strong faith that made it possible. One of my favorite stories of his and how he was first introduced to VMware, he and Mendel Rosenblum (VMware co-founder) were back stage at a Intel developer conference the day after the very first vMotion and how Mendel was so excited and they sat there brainstorming use cases for it.

On a personal note I’ve met Pat several times at VMworld, mainly at vExpert events were he has appeared at. He is easily approachable, willing to talk to anyone, very laid-back and obviously a geek at heart like myself. I really like his casual, easy-going approach to things even in keynotes which is in sharp contrast to Paul Maritz who seemed very stiff and formal. His humanitarian work is truly inspiring as it shows he truly cares about those that are less fortunate. In one week he went from the main stage at VMworld 2017 speaking to thousands about technology to Kenya to help children and families in need.

I’ve always admired Pat Gelsinger, he’s a brilliant technologist, a wonderful leader, and an incredible person and VMware is very lucky to have him at the helm. Thanks Pat for all you do for the virtualization community and for the entire world, you are an inspiration to us all.

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Oct 31 2017

30 Must-Read Small Business IT Blogs 2017

I was recently honored to be included in a list of 30 must read SMB IT blogs and wanted to say thank you to BizTech for including me in that list. I looked through the blogs in that list and there is a lot of diversity in it with everything from credit card blogs to business blogs to general IT blogs and more. The only other blog on that list beside mine that I recognized was Tom Hollingsworth, the Networking Nerd blog. So thank you again, it’s always nice to be recognized and I will do my best to keep this blog interesting and informative.

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